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Handyman on Call

Why did his new sink develop a crack?

Q. About one year ago a plumber installed a granite vanity top with a porcelain under-mount bowl in my bathroom. This week a hairline crack 6 to 7 inches long, beginning at the drain area, appeared. What do you think happened and does it need to be fixed and can it be fixed? According to the paperwork the top has a “Limited Warranty” but not the bowl.

KEN BUJA, Mansfield

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A. It’s interesting that the top is warranted but not the bowl. At any rate, the porcelain cracked, I think, because the chrome drain cover was installed too tightly. Maybe the plumber can help. Some years ago I got a call from a person whose Corian sink had cracked at the drain hole. I guessed that it was installed too tightly and suggested she check with the Corian dealer. She got an immediate replacement. If the bowl is not leaking, you can live with it. Or, buy a new bowl and have it installed properly.

Q. There have been signs of rotting behind the vinyl siding of my condo complex, some minor and some more advanced. Should we re-side the complete complex now or later? It was done 32 years ago and looks OK, but we don’t know what’s underneath.

DEB, in Hotton’s chat room

A. Decay can occur behind vinyl siding, from condensation behind the siding or from an outside leak caused by improper pressure washing that traps water behind the siding that won’t go away for months. If it’s due to one or both problems, it can affect the entire complex. The only way to find out is to take some of the siding off and inspect the sheathing. Nothing will cure the problem except stopping the improper pressure washing and installing 3/8-inch Styrofoam Insulation under the siding, which will stop the condensation.

If you re-side, I suggest red cedar clapboards stained with a semitransparent stain which will not peel, but has to go on bare wood. If you insist on residing with vinyl, I suggest you use Cedar Impressions, which look like painted shingles. In the case of clapboards or vinyl, that 3/8-inch insulation is essential to success.

Q. I had a kitchen renovation done late last year. Since then, there has been an odor under the kitchen sink that is bothering me. Is it possibly a chemical or sealer used in the plumbing? I asked my contractor, who said he smelled it, but that it would go away over time. It is still very strong when I open the cabinet doors under the sink. It also can be smelled in the adjacent Bosch dishwasher. It is strong enough to make me cough at times. Could you tell me what it might be, and how I could eliminate it?

A. The odor, under the sink and in the dishwasher, indicates to me that the dishwasher is not draining properly, and that some of the wash water remains in the sump, and if it stays there a while it can get very smelly. Try putting a cup of bleach in the dishwasher sump; just pour it into the bottom of the dishwasher, and see if goes away. Also, call your appliance dealer to have the dishwasher checked. There should be no water left in the sump after the dishwasher ends its cycle.

Globe Handyman on Call Peter Hotton also appears in the Sunday Real Estate section. He is available 1-6 p.m. Tuesdays to answer questions on house repair. Call 617-929-2930. Hotton (photton@globe.com) also chats online about house matters 2-3 p.m. Thursdays. Go to www.boston.com
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